Sunday, 29 November 2020


Invented in 1913 by radical futurist Aleksei Yeliseyevick Kruchyonykh (*1886 – †1968) with literati contemporaries including David Burliuk and Vladimir Mayakovsky (see previously), the non-referential linguistic experiment zaum was to be a demonstration that language is indefinite and indeterminate, spontaneous and non-codified—something that the listener or interlocutor would give form to and thus revealing something about the universal undercurrents of communication. Though transrational in nature, the Russian prefix and noun are meant to convey “beyondsense” and adherents are referred to as zaumiks. Listen to examples recited at Weird Universe at the link above, including Kruchyonykh’s poem here pictured—Дыр бул щыл, transliterated as Dyr bul shchyl, which the author claimed was more patriotic and nationally insightful than the entire canon of Alexander Pushkin.


Originally created by programmer Allan Alcorn as a training exercise assignment from Atari co-founder Nolan Bushnell (also the businessman responsible for Chuck E. Cheese restaurants—establishing a venue and a franchise for arcade games), Pong—the table tennis themed video game, was released on this day in 1972, having been prototyped at a local bar in Sunnyvale, California since August of that year.

Patrons visited Andy Capp’s tavern just to play the game, at a quarter per play with each unit projected to generate forty dollars a day, quadruple the revenue of other coin operated entertainments like jukeboxes and pinball machines. Among the first commercially successful ventures in the field, Pong was instrumental in establishing the industry of gaming and drove emulation and competition.


Identified as one of the seventy-two disciples at the Last Supper—the image of the head table is the one we are most familiar with—Greek bishop and martyr dispatched by Pope Fabian, himself famously elected to office after a pigeon alighted on his head during the conclave, to Toulouse as one of the apostles to the Gauls to re-establish Christian communities after Emperor Decius ordered their dissolution, is venerated on this day on the occasion of his death in 257. Attributing the silence of their pagan oracles to the constant presence of this meddlesome priest—their altars at the capitol (le Capitole de Toulouse) passed by congregants daily on their way to the Christian church, they seized Saturninus, who refusing to sacrifice to their gods, tied him to a raging bull and to be dragged through the streets until the rope broke. A similar fate befell one of Saturnin’s pupils, Saint Fermin, who died in Pamplona. Symbolically this martyrdom is an inversion of the mysteries of the cult of Mithras, involving the ritual slaughtering of a bull. Called tauroctony, and this tautology thereof is enshrined in many of the names of streets, squares and churches of Toulouse.

taxi nach leipzig

This evening, fifty years ago marked the first broadcast of the long running German crime serial Tatort (“crime scene”—see previously), a ninety-minute stand-alone case investigated by a familiar case of characters, on Sundays following the evening news at eight on channel NDR, Norddeutsch Rundfunk.

The premier episode revolved around the unidentified body of an adolescent discovered at a rest stop near Leipzig, and the East German authorities call on their Western counterparts for help when it is determined that the victim is wearing Western articles of clothing. The request for assistance is abruptly called off, prompting on of the West German detectives to launch his own investigation when it is learned that the bringing this death to light may scandalise a prominent chemist. Even if there is a language barrier or you do not really care for police procedurals, the appreciation for this suspenseful, funky opening sequence by Klaus Doldinger still in use today by is universal.

hello frens

Born on this day in 1752 (†1819) to Quakers settlers in the colony of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations as Jemima Wilkinson after succumbing to severe illness—probably a bad case of typhus—died and was reborn as a genderless evangelic to be henceforth known as the Public Universal Friend. Preaching beliefs fairly in line with Quaker heterodoxy, the Friend eschewed her former identity and rejected gendered pronouns and generally referred to themselves as PUF. Rejecting the notions of predestination and the elected, the Friend believed that revelation could come to anyone and the congregation, the Society of Universal Friends, included enslaved people and Native Americans and was an early advocate for emancipation and equal rights.

Saturday, 28 November 2020

the great bed of ware

Via Strange Company’s Weekend Link Dump, we are directed to one unusual artefact of the Victoria & Albert Museum collection in the monumental and for the time of its acquisition in 1931 for a princely sum of four thousand pounds budget-breaking piece of furniture.

Originally housed in the White Hart Inn in the town as sort of a tourists’ draw for the stopping off point a day’s journey outside of London to points north, the massive four-poster bed—at three metres wide big enough to accommodate four couples—and was built by carpenter Jonas Fosbrooke in the last decade of the sixteenth century with Renaissance style marquetry and ornament inspired by Hans Vredeman de Vries—and to add to its history and provenance, couples have carved their names or initials in the headboard to mark their stay and is mentioned by name in Twelfth Night (circa 1601) and works by Ben Jonson and Charles Dickens.


a midnight train going anywhere: take the nightline through an infinite metropolis—via JWZ  

炬燵: a giant, living room sized electric blanket from Japan called a kotatsu 

pop culture c-span: mining the US government archives for movie and television references and reviews—via Waxy  

doctor zaius, doctor zaius: researchers splice human genes into embryonic marmosets to increase their brain size 

just a little plastic bag with little handles on it: the arbiter of packaging 

peripheral drift: an interesting rotating circles optical illusion  

zoomquilt: follow the thread for an infinite exploration—via the New Shelton wet/dry

kiddie table

Without explanation or preparation, Trump hosted a press conference seated in the Oval Office at a tiny assistant desk (usually brought out for signing ceremonies when the crowd crushes in to capture the moment but now it just looks like the awful man-child doesn’t get to sit at the adult table) on Thanksgiving, berating reporters with his patently false narrative that the election was stolen from him, prompting several to comment that this was the “Four Seasons Total Landscaping” version of the Resolute Desk and how spot-on the scene juxtaposed with a 2017 throwback of a Saturday Night Live sketch with Trump portrayed throwing a similar tantrum. His vacuous message was lost among the strange optics, prompting follow-on ire against Twitter for amplifying what the wannabe dictator characterised as sedition.